Love Thy Neighbor

Hey friend, this story doesn't really have anything to do with clothes because that's not the only thing Living Golden is about. I hope you got a chance to read our brand story to hear that our goal is to encourage, empower, and help women know that they are loved and known. If you haven't read it yet I'll link it here.

In the meantime, here's the story I was telling you about. How many times whether it be in church or on social media do we hear about "spreading love" or "loving your neighbor"? These are phrases that are often talked about and I can guarantee everyone reading this has heard them. When you think to yourself, you would probably think that you've grasped the concept of being a good neighbor, especially if you are a Christian who has grown up listening to sermons about it. I thought I grasped it too until something hit me the other day.

I was running to Kroger to pick up some groceries when I realized I forgot my mask at home, (2020 am I right?!). I popped in a gas station holding my jean jacket over my face searching for a mask. The guy behind the counter gave me a funny look and told me I didn't have to wear that over my face. Relieved, I asked him if they sold masks. He laughed, said they didn't, and then reached behind the counter and pulled a mask out of a box and handed it to me. I was shocked. I asked if he was serious and offered to pay, but he just gave me a fist bump and smiled at me. This gas station worker and I were different races, different genders, and different ages, but he treated me as his neighbor. In no way was he obligated to extend the grace he did for me. The story doesn't end there.

I pull up in the Kroger parking lot, put on my mask, and headed inside. I was running behind schedule for dinner and was trying to get in an out as soon as possible. I was still thinking about how nice that man was who gave me one of his masks. As I'm walking in, I notice a mom outside with a child in a cart holding a sign asking for help. I also noticed every other person walking right past her inside. This is a common thing, for people to ask for help at stop lights, on the street, or busy places like the grocery store. On any other day, I probably would have walked right on past her, gotten my groceries, and left to accomplish everything else on my to do list for the day.  But when I was walking up my heart just broke for her. 

 I was reminded of the story in Acts in the Bible when Peter and John were in a rush, heading to prayer at the temple and stumbled across a man who was crippled from birth. The man was set down at the Temple gate Beautiful everyday to beg. Can you imagine the desperation and discouragement of this man? He was crippled since birth and has been begging everyday since. How many times has this man felt unloved, forgotten, worthless...etc. He probably did not expect anything to change in his life when Peter and John came walking past him. I can only imagine how many people walked right past him without even glancing at him in his lifetime. When Peter and John stopped, instead of giving him coins, they healed him in the name of Jesus. Now, imagine the change in that man's life! It only took two guys, the right guys, seeing him, extending grace, and telling him who Christ is for his life to change forever. 

I bet that mom felt like the crippled man standing outside of Kroger. Our minds go straight to thinking thoughts of "If I give her money she is just going to buy drugs or alcohol with it", "She needs to be more responsible with her finances", "She is probably just faking it". Ladies, why are these the first thoughts in our mind? I'm guilty of it too. In this moment, I just thought about the desperation she must be in. I'm sure that's she was humiliated to be begging outside of Kroger for food for her children, but what mom would not do that for their kids? I'm not a mom yet, but I would do just about anything for my dog Maverick (yes, I am a crazy dog mama) if he was in need. If I would do that for him, I know I would do so much more for my children. 

Instead of just walking by her like everyone else, I went up and asked her what she needed from the store. Her English was broken, but she kept telling me over and over how she needed food to feed her children. She had a toddler with her, she said she had more at home, and she was pregnant. After talking with her for a minute, I went inside, got my groceries, a gift card, and two waters. I went outside and was handing her the gift card and waters and was about to walk off when I stopped. I turned around and asked if I could pray with her and let her know that I gave her those things not because I'm a "good person", but because this was God's way of showing her that she is seen, known, and loved by Him. That God has not forgotten her. Those words were probably more vital to her life than the gift card and waters. Her life may have not been changed forever like the crippled man, but seeds were planted for her future.

Now, I did not tell you this long story to shine light on my good deed. I have been the person who walks right past someone in need and didn't think twice about it. But that week I had been more intentional about getting up, getting in the word, and asking God to use me to help others see that they are known and loved by Him. In my brain, I was thinking of ways I could do this through my businesses. How do I love my clients and customers? God had different plans. Also, since someone had just been a "good neighbor" to me I was more likely to do the same. 

So, I challenge you this week to really reflect on actionable ways to be a good neighbor and do not limit yourself to who your neighbor is. It's more than just a phrase on a t-shirt, but the tee is a good reminder. My prayer for y'all this week is to know that you are seen and loved by God and to outpour that love to your neighbors. 

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